This will not be a blog with pictures of smiling faces and big fish. It was a rough day, from a fishing perspective, but a day floating a river with a fly rod in your hand isn’t a bad day. Nate and I booked a trip with Red’s Flyshop taking advantage of their “Skwala Special”. Like most guide services, they offer discounted spring trips to bring in additional business during a time when the weather and the fishing are less than reliable. We tried this a couple of years ago, so we knew to expect anything.
We left Richland amid gale-force winds and temps just above freezing – ugh. However, when we arrived in the Yakima Canyon the winds had subsided considerably, though still chilly. After meeting our guide, Max, at the shop we headed to the Big Horn launch site. The water clarity, while not great wasn’t too bad. We learned the upriver reservoirs were letting out water in advance of the spring snow melt and the high flow will be maintained through the rest of March – ugh. In spite of high water and cold temps, clear skies and calm wind gave us hope for a good day on the river.
Max rigged us each up with a two-nymph indicator rig; Pat’s Rubberleg on top with a San Juan worm variant dropper. Not too long into the float I hooked a nice trout on the dropper, which came unpinned before we could get it in the net. The promise of a good day. Well, it was a long dry spell before he got another hit and landed a 12-inch rainbow.
In the meantime, the wind came up to an annoying level for fly casting and more clouds bringing on a chill. However, we kept at it until after 1:00 when Max suggested we try rigging our dry fly rods with floating skwala patterns. We had seen some blue-winged olive mayflies hatching and an adult skwala, so what the hell… So, we worked the buckets as they came up with dries close to the banks. My old joints are not used to long sessions of rapid fire casting and I was starting to feel it. No love on the dries and by 2:00 we were getting hungry, so we pulled over for lunch
After lunch we stayed with the dries for a bit longer and it produced what would end up being our last trout.
We switched back to the nymph rods for the rest of our float to the Lmuma Creek launch site. I was ready. As Max told us, we worked hard and didn’t leave “anything on the table”. He worked hard, also, dealing with full-river flows, still putting us on all his favorite spots. In spite of lack of fish, putting that much effort in was satisfying that we gave it a good shot. In looking back at our first skwala trip, this one was actually more successful.
Can’t wait for summer, though.